Described in The New Yorker as “The greatest cabaret artist of vs generation” by Hilton Als, Tony-nominated performance artist Justin Vivian Bond is best known as Kiki of ‘Kiki and Herb,’ and as one of the stars of John Cameron Mitchell’s Shortbus. Bond appears this Friday through Sunday night (October 12-14) at the Rrazz Room, singing, joshing and premiering excerpts from vs new solo show, Mx America.
While currently residing in New York, Bond lived in San Francisco for many years and remains a frequent visitor to the city. We asked v to share some favorite haunts and hangouts in SF.
What’s your favorite cultural institution to spend time at in the city?
There are few places in the world that mean more to me than The Castro Theatre. Long before I gave concerts or appeared in films there I sat in the audience and was introduced to the great directors of queer cinema: Derek Jarman, Tom Kalin, Sally Potter, Marlon Riggs among so many others and I also got the thrill of experiencing many classic films I’d been dying to see on the big screen for the first time. The Frameline Film Festival and the magical events produced by Marc Huestis are just a few of the mind-expanding traditions that continue to draw me. I’m not even going to go into the times I’ve been all nervous, excited and amped up with desire while on a date at the Castro. I love that the Castro Theater remains what it was created to be -a dream palace.
What’s your favorite view in the city?
I love the view from Buena Vista Park when the fog starts rolling in. I used to live near the park and the trees, the smell and the slight chill that comes in at twilight on a fall afternoon is wildly romantic. It let’s you know why San Francisco has inspired so much poetry.
Where is shopping central for you?
I’ve bought some of the best clothes I’ve ever owned at thrift shops on Valencia. My girlfriends and I used to spend hours trying on clothes to buy by the pound at Clothes Contact. I don’t think they sell them by the pound anymore but I still always manage to find something there. I wore a red dress from there in my video for “American Wedding”.
Name one thing a visitor shouldn’t miss eating in San Francisco?
I get sick cravings for the el pastor tacos at El Toro on Valencia but I love the burritos at Pancho Villa on 16th for old times sake. I used to live on those when I was appearing in Kate Bornstein’s Hidden: A Gender at Theater Rhinoceros. I was playing a 19th century French hermaphrodite named Herculine Barbin and my co-stars would marvel that I would go onstage with an entire burrito in my stomach. I don’t think I could do that now.
Cocktail spot of choice?
I married the Lesbian Elvis Impersonator Elvis Herselvis over 20 years ago in SF and she always likes to take me to the Tonga Room. I prefer something a little more understated but hey, what can I say, I’m putty in the hands of an excellent kisser.
You’ve got $50 or more per person to spend for a meal, where would you choose?
I like eating at Foreign Cinema on Mission St. It’s a great place to meet up with old friends while I’m in town. I usually stay with my friend, the San Francisco based artist Deniece Laws, who lives in the Mission and we can have a nice cocktail or two and stumble home in our heels.
So now you’ve got less than $15 per person to spend for a meal. Where will it be?
On a beautiful day there is nothing more fun that body watching in Dolores Park so go to It’s Tops grocery store, grab some fixings and have a picnic. It’s cheap and you might even find some free love!
What would you tell a visitor that they absolutely must do while in San Francisco which they probably wouldn’t find in a guidebook?
SEE LIVE PERFORMANCE! There are so many wonderful performers living in San Francisco: from singers like Veronica Klaus, Leigh Crow, and Connie Champagne to performance troups like The Thrillpeddlers, brilliant poets and writers presented by The Radar Readers Series and lots of really wonderful up-and-coming young artists just beginning to find their voices.